by Merritt Irene Tegeler
Guess what time of year it is? It is time for Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree! In 1963 Director Dave Peters and the choir of the First Assembly of God church presented the first Singing Christmas Tree at the Benson High School Auditorium. That first choir consisting of approximately 70 singers appeared in white capes above the bows of evergreens that decorated that first tree. Little did they realize what they had started!
As the Tree grew, it found various places to perform, until in 1967 it opened at the Civic Auditorium, now known as the Keller Auditorium. In 1984, our present Director, Jim Boehner, formed a new organization, One Voice Productions to continue the tradition and legacy of Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree.
A few years later the choir was opened up to the public and the message of hope, joy, peace, and love has continued ever since. At present there are over 130 different churches represented in the choir which is comprised of approximately 300 voices. We are joined each year with a youth choir of 35-40 children ranging from 5th to 8th grades, as well as regionally recognized guest artists.
Every year we not only present the Christmas story from the Bible, but Greg Tamblyn, our stage director, weaves a fantastic new story line into our musical production. Our songs range from traditional carols, to new Christmas songs that we present to our audience each year. Our performances begin the day after Thanksgiving and usually include the next weekend as well. We range from 10 to 12 performances each year.
I have felt the need to put on paper the history of this wonderful organization, so that the stories that have made it grow across the years won’t get lost. I have told many people that I am only compiling the stories. It is the people of the Tree who have written the history with their voices, and lives as they contribute to its success year after year. If you haven’t heard us yet, make this the year you start your holiday season with us. A seat will be waiting for you! Come join us as we celebrate Christmas and Celebrate Tradition with Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree.
Irene can be found in one of the wheelchairs in the front, singing soprano. She is so glad to be a part of the Tree.